Whatever you say, Mr. Hosono. (Do you know where the corium is, by the way?)
Yomiuri Shinbun (9/20/2011) reports:
Goshi Hosono, Minister in charge of nuclear accident, gave a speech at the annual meeting of IAEA in Vienna, Austria on September 19, and said his government was planning to achieve the "step 2" of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant "Roadmap" - cold shutdown of the reactors - by the end of this year instead of by the middle of January next year.
He also announced the plan to receive the decontamination survey team from IAEA in October, in order to get their international expertise and knowledge about decontamination.
Mr. Hosono said in the address, "The accident is steadily winding down. We will be doing our best to achieve the "step 2" by the end of this year, ahead of schedule".
According to the "roadmap", the achievement of cold shutdown is set as the condition for the completion of the "step 2", where the reactors are stopped in a stable manner. It is to be achieved sometime between mid October and mid January next year.
Does IAEA have decontamination experts?
So the Japanese government is slowly changing the definition of "cold shutdown". The indicator of "cold shutdown" used to be the temperature of the RPV below 100 degrees Celsius, but now it seems they have added "in a stable manner". The temperatures of the RPVs of Reactor 1 and 3 measure less than 100 degrees these days, but "cold shutdown" is not declared.
So the charade goes on, trying to achieve "cold shutdown" of what remains of a Reactor Pressure Vessel, probably long devoid of the molten jumble of fuel rods, control rods and everything else inside (corium). Even TEPCO admitted they are not 100% sure what they are measuring as temperature, pressure, and water level is accurate.
Since he's in Vienna, Hosono may not know that TEPCO has admitted to several hundred tonnes of groundwater leaking into the basements of the reactor buildings and turbine buildings every day. I guess he can take the line from ex-chief Cabinet Secretary Edano (and current head of the Ministry of Economy and Trade) and say "Not an immediate problem". It worked for Edano.